Turkey, one of the most unstable regions in the world, witnessed a deadly military coup for the fourth time in its political history since 1960. The military factions tried to assume control by overthrowing the incumbent leader, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, but failed. Clashes and uproar between the rebels and the loyalists, nevertheless, left at least 250 dead, more than 1,400 injured and thousands detained for ‘treason’.
What erupted on the Friday night and lost strength in the early hours of Saturday, began with the soldiers seizing two main bridges of Istanbul, the largest and the most populous city in Turkey. A series of intense booming explosions, gunfires and unusual sight of F-16 fighter jets flying low over the rooftops in the capital city of Ankara finally ended in face off with the angry crowd.
When Turkey was in a precarious situation, Erdogan, a seemingly firm opposer of social media, ironically addressed the people of Turkey through FaceTime asserting the constitutionality of his democratic authority. He assured people that they would certainly “overcome this” and asked them to defy the curfew ordered by the coup leaders. People, as a result, flooded the streets to show their solidarity.
While many glorify him as a transformative figure, many others have expressed concerns about growing tension in Turkey owing to Erdogan’s dictatorial ambitions. His desire to change Constitution to adopt the Presidential system of America in order to assume greater power is feared by several. Military’s aversion to the new system is one of the supposed reasons for the uprising.
The man held responsible for stimulating the failed attempt, as accused by Erdogan, is a cleric living in self-exile in Pennsylvania, Fetullah Gulen. The Gulen Movement, usually referred to as “Hizmet” (The Service), promotes a more liberal and tolerant version of Islam as against extremist and fundamentalist outlook of the Turkish President. Gulen, who has millions of followers in Turkey holding key positions in judiciary and army, has denied all the accusations. A Gulen- allied New York based ‘Alliance for Shared Value’ has condemned “any military intervention in domestic politics of country.”
“Extradite this man in Pennsylvania to Turkey now”, exclaimed Erdogan. Though Obama promptly came out against the coup, the US seemed doubtful of the Turkish President and refused to extradite him without any evidence.
It is indeed a victory of democracy and the ‘black day’ in the Turkey’s dark journey has brought with it an opportunity; an opportunity which can be used by the leader either to strengthen his authoritarian rule or for constituting a more sincere and soaring democracy.
About The Author